Fading color photos, a static-y video, and a heap of letters covered the floor in front of me. The photo was of three young girls– about age four, wearing colorful dresses. Arms around one another’s shoulders, with those “trying too hard to smile” grins of four-year-olds, they sit together at the top of a slide. Then there’s the static-y video, dated 1996, of the same three girls playing together with a small, pink shopping cart, pushing around a stuffed bear at a daycare. I was the one with the black hair, and Ally and Maddie were the ones with the brown, curly hair.
Soon after the photo was taken, Ally moved to Kansas. She was over 1500 miles away from my house in Boston, Massachusetts. We were both really upset that we wouldn’t see each other anymore, but our parents convinced us that it wasn’t the end of our friendship. They told us we could write letters and phone each other. So we started writing to each other. At first we drew pictures and wrote “I MISS YOU!” and “Hope I see you soon!” across the top. As we learned to write, we began composing messages. I continued playing with Maddie at daycare until we started kindergarten at different schools. After a couple more play dates, I never saw Maddie again. I tried writing letters to her too, but she never responded to them. Finally, I gave up on writing to her. However, I kept writing to Ally, and she kept writing back.
Even though Ally was so far away, both she and I made the effort to stay in touch through those letters and phone calls, while I’d never heard from Maddie again even though she lived less than 20 minutes away. Reviewing those letters from Ally made me realize that a friendship cannot be successful with only one person’s effort. Each letter in that pile was from Ally, but not one was from Maddie. There were school pictures of Ally from each year, and postcards from the various places she traveled to. To be honest, I can’t actually remember being friends with Ally or Maddie in preschool. I know I was, from the photos, videos, and letters, and also the fact that I’ve known I was friends with them for as long as I can remember. But it was really the letters and phone calls that have bonded Ally and I in the friendship we have today. As our handwriting and spelling improved from that of four year olds, so did the closeness of our friendship to now when we are both fifteen.
Recently, Ally moved back east to Connecticut from Kansas. Although Connecticut and Massachusetts are much closer, and we see each other more frequently, we still write to each other because we know that is what has sustained our friendship since she moved. A friendship cannot be successful single handedly. Two people must make an effort to keep in touch.
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